Cruise impresses in historical thriller

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Tom Cruise in Valkyrie

Gazette File Photo

AND THESE ARE THE GOOD GUYS. Tom Cruise plays Claus von Stauffenberg (top), a German Colonel who plots with other members of the German Resistance (bottom), to assassinate Hitler in the thriller Valkyrie.

Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard

4 stars

While it may not receive the Oscar nods producers had hoped for, the historical thriller Valkyrie is a film worthy of praise.

The film depicts the 20 July Plot â€" an unsuccessful effort by German officers in the dying months of World War II to assassinate Hitler. Despite its critical reception that was neutral at best, Valkyrie manages to capture the audience in an engaging and complex plot, one that is rarely too complex to follow.

Cruise stars as Claus von Stauffenberg, a colonel in the German army and active member of the German Resistance. Cruise’s performance reveals the depth of character expected from such a seasoned actor. Cruise’s von Stauffenberg is a fiercely patriotic family man willing to die for the Germany he believes in.

The film takes few artistic freedoms with the historical events upon which it is based: those familiar with the 20 July Plot will likely find the film enjoyable and accurate, at least by Hollywood standards. History aside, Valkyrie’s countless suspenseful scenes will satisfy any moviegoer more concerned with being entertained.

Some of the film’s historical authenticity fails to materialize through the assortment of accents used by the cast. Germans with American, British and, more naturally, German intonation stand side by side in the movie, making it difficult to be entirely convinced of the film’s credibility. Although in fairness, using a German accent would likely hinder Cruise’s ability to deliver such a convincing performance.

The film’s cinematography and visual effects also deserve mention. Much of the filming took place in Berlin and many scenes feature surviving Nazi relics. The film features vivid colours, including much red, which director Bryan Singer explains was frequently used to represent the violence of the Nazi ideology.

Although far from a documentary, Singer’s Valkyrie is an engaging and insightful commentary on the danger posed to the world in the early 20th century by Hitler and a tribute to the brave Germans who stood in his way.

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